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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                               103
province of Bengal, differs so istrikingly in climate and vege-
tation from the upper, that it must necessarily be regarded as
a separate province. Along the sea-coast Bengal includes the
whole of the delta of the Ganges, extending from Balasor Jo
the mouth of the Penny. It is bounded on the west by the
hilly districts of Orissa and Bahar, and on the east by the
Assam valley, and the Khasia, Tippera, and Cliittagong hills.
To the north ii extends to the base of the Himalaya, but to the
north-west the boundary between Bengal and the upper Gan-
getic plain must be an arbitrary one, the transition of climate
and vegetation being gradual; it may, however, conveniently
be drawn at the river Cosi. Further west the plains are
screened by the Bahar hills from the direct influence of the
moist air from the Bay of Bengal, and are thei'eforc drier.
The surface of Bengal is perfectly flat, and so little ele-
vated above the level of the river that a great part of it is
under water during the rainy season. Close to the base of
the Himalaya the surface is a little more elevated, but else-
where it is everywhere intersected by watercourses, which are
formed by the branching of- the two great rivers, the Ganges
and Brahmaputra, and of their tributaries.
The climate of Bengal is much more equable than that of
the^upper Gangetic plain. The raius are heavier and of lou-
gor duration; the heat of summer never rises to so excessive a
temperature as in the north-west provinces of Hindostan, and
the winter is much less cold. North of the Ganges, hot
winds blowing from the westward towards the funnel-shaped
valley of Assam occasionally traverse the plain> but they arc
rarely of sufficiently long continuance to affect the vegeta-
tion. South of the Ganges the delta is sheltered by the hills
of Bahar, so that no hit winds blow, and the atmosphere
always remains more or less humid. This humidity is no
doubt primarily due to the proximity of the sea, though ire
learn from the dryncss of Sindh, on the opposite side of the
peninsula, that that alone is not sufficient to induce it; the
iriaiu cause would appear to be the proximity of tluğ error-